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Photos: Locals Hope the Venice Art Crawl will Bring Back the Art Scene

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Venice is an internationally known Los Angeles neighborhood and it's in part thanks to artists who helped make the area so eclectic. But hit Ocean Front Walk today and you won't see too much art, it's more of atmosphere made up of muscles and freaks and everything between.

That perception could soon change. A coalition of locals are hoping get back to the community's roots and it started last week with the first of the new monthly Venice Art Crawl.

"It's probably life changing to Venice," said co-organizer Danny Samakow, who was glowing with excitement last Thursday night. "People come from all over the world to feel that Venice creative spirit, but they can't take it home with them. Why come to Venice? There's better beaches. They come here for this whole creative energy and yet there's no way to connect to it. This is the beginning of them being able to connect to it, so people will come and instead of buying a t-shirt from Venice, they're going to buy a piece of art."

Samakow, who owns three local restaurants -- James Beech, Danny's and Canal Club -- believes the event will help bring more galleries to the area. One thing that frustrates him especially is that the boardwalk is a place you can more easily purchase five pairs of socks for $1 than art.

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Artist Bill Attaway sees it the same way. "There's a part that's been lost as of lately," he said of art. "The boardwalk has become a merchandise place, there's less art out there and more merchandise and this [the art crawl] actually puts the highlight on Venice artists, not just merchandise, but fine artists and to me that's the most important thing that's going on right now."

Attaway says the event is really helping bring the community together and part of that will come through what could become an official Business Improvement District. But will that turn Venice into a clean-cut corporate business-laden area?

Not likely.

"It started with a very simple thing, a couple artists came to restaurant owners and were like, 'we can't sell shit,' and what happened is they started to put together this idea, and it's a classic idea: that the idea to beat a recession and the idea to beat a time when we're down is a time we all come together," explained Nick Laurel of SGA, a consulting firm that works with neighborhoods and government agencies. "And we needed an idea to all come together with, and in order to build that community, it was art. And it's unbelievably cool thing because it's purely Venice. It's this raw, sort of dirty, fun thing that is erupting all around from residents. We've got houses, we've got salons, we've got restaurants, and we've all these different people and they've only got one thing: local artists."

All those non-gallery spaces found Thursday night were influenced by the wildly successful Downtown Art Walk where galleries are found anywhere. "What stood out was this concept of pop-up galleries," said Samakow. "We lost so many galleries in the 80s and the idea of a pop-up gallery made all the sense in the world."

The Venice Art Crawl is mostly based off the Boardwalk area between Venice Boulevard and Windward Avenue. Locals said the area was busier than a normal Thursday night and that's the long range goal, continued Samakow. "You go to any place in this country that has a beachfront and there's people there at night, and there's no people here at night in one of the most creative communities in the country. That's insane."

The next Venice Art Crawl, which takes place on the third Thursday of the month, will be on September 16th.